Just an hour’s flight north of Mumbai, and so close to Rajashtan, it is a pity that this fascinating and diverse state often gets overlooked by tourists. Known for their resourcefulness and entrepreneurism, it is said that if you ask a successful Indian anywhere in the world, there’s a good chance they’ll come from Gujerat. It suffered a devastating earthquake in 2001 – Bhuj in Kutch was particularly badly hit and 15,000 lost their lives, a tenth of it’s population.
Jains, known for their devotion and for their business acumen, and for the hundreds of dazzling white marble temples they have built, are strong in this State. They are probably largely responsible for Gujerat’s reputation for progress and success.
With a 1600km coastline, and fast-growing commercial centres, Indian people are flocking to work in this dynamic State which has been described as ‘India’s California’. Many roads are good, with more under construction, as is a massive canal which will carry water 1500km across country. Even so, as all over India, it takes a strong nerve for the uninitiated to take to the wheel. Despite the new roads, distances are deceptive, so don’t be in a hurry
Gujerat is also home to the iconic ethnic Indian woman, colourfully dressed with stunning embroidery and heavy jewellery. She can be seen here, predominantly in the western region of Kutch, working in the fields (probably not wearing her jewellery) or working at her craft in one of the rural villages. Textile printing, embroidery and jewellery-making are an important part of Gujerat’s culture.
The main city of Ahmedabad is frantic and noisy but there are things to see. The most important is The Calico Museum of Textiles which has a worldwide reputation, also good mosques and temples and the 15C Dada Hari Wav baoli (stepwell). Said to be one of India’s most progressive and expanding cities, factories are cropping up all over the city, and the population has almost doubled in the last decade.
There are plenty of places to stay but, with a few exceptions, don’t expect too much. Some hotels (particularly rural ones) offer full board only. Few hotels offer alcohol, but it can be arranged by special license – enquire prior to arrival.
Mandvi - Bhuj - Kutch, Gujerat
A camp on the beach with ten luxury colonial-chic tents. Fantastic sea-facing restaurant serving fresh seafood and Gujerati cuisine. Each tent has a private bathroom and verandah. An old-world ambiance with contemporary facilities. A deluxe way to do some local exploring.
A safe option with a good pool for the discerning business traveller. 24-hour convenience and comfort. Two excellent restaurants, two banqueting halls and great business facilities.
Urban Heritage hotel, rich in history mixes nostalgia with modern conveniences. Bedrooms with dark furniture, artefacts, family photographs, some with balconies. Excellent Agashiye rooftop thali restaurant, gym and beautiful pool. Its great banqueting facilities make it an ideal spot for groups.
An eco-friendly resort popular with wildlife enthusiasts. Charming traditional mud-plaster cottages with local fabrics and inset mirrorwork. A large open-sided restaurant, swimming pool and small lake. A great choice for safari adventurers, local explorers and wildlife lovers.
A safari lodge with cottages overlooking the Rudramata Reservoir. The perfect base from which to explore the tribal villages and handicrafts around Bhuj. Simple round white-washed cottages and a swimming pool.